Science and Mathmatics Teachers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st December 1962.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian 12:00 am, 21st December 1962

I believe that there should be television sets not only in every secondary school but in every primary school and while this might be considered a tall order, I would like to see a television set in every single classroom. This would partly avoid the time involved in taking pupils to the communal television room—and I refer to the physical time spent moving from one room to another—but it would partly assist by being able to use a television programme not just once but twice, which is particularly effective in science teaching. It is much better that pupils should see a programme once, spend some time discussing it and then see it a second time. If there is only one television set in a school difficulties are created. Besides, in every school that has a TV set, there are clashes of timetable between classes.

Without finding myself out of order in talking about finance, I would draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to two early day Motions on the television industry. Before the 625 line system is introduced in April, 1964, this industry will be going through a serious economic crisis. If these sort of steps are taken the under-utilised resources of the unemployed makers of television components in my constituency and other parts of the North-East and Scotland, as well as Northern Ireland, would be assisted. I realise that it assumes a certain amount of financial expenditure when one claims that every classroom should have a television set. This would certainly help the industry to tide over lack of sales until April, 1964. It may be thought that one is relying far too much on television of schoolchildren receive a lot of television teaching. Perhaps they would look less willingly at television in the evenings if this were done; and the Minister can choose which is the better for pupils.

I would like to suggest the setting up of centres of science so that pupils in the cities can attend them, and I must confess to have been influenced to a certain extent by the palaces of pioneers which one sees in Russia. While it might be unrealistic to ask that extremely expensive equipment should be provided in every school, such science centres could have this expensive equipment and the sixteen to eighteen year olds who so badly need this form of study could attend these centres. This suggestion could take in various types of clubs, centres of geology, perhaps astronomy and even solid state physics. Students could approach these subjects with much more enthusiasm than they can do in the compulsory sense inside the normal school framework.

The hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Boyden) would, I am sure, discover that girls would make a great deal of use of these centres. It is a serious thing that of the physics graduates in our schools with degrees in physics 2,012 are men and only 316 are women. The interest which science centres would provide could do a lot to encourage a solution of the problem which the hon. Member for Bishop Auckland spoke about.

I must be brief because a number of hon. Members still wish to speak. I had intended to deal with a number of other points but I will merely commend to the Parliamentary Secretary the document "Science Teaching in Secondary Modern Schools "published by the Science-masters' Association in 1959. I urge the Parliamentary Secretary to give this his urgent consideration.